Rochard: Assessing the gravity of the situation

October 16, 2011

Brought to us by the folks over at Recoil Games, Rochard is an interesting physics-based puzzle-platformer with a lot going for it. You take on the role of John Rochard, a portly space miner, and the events that take place after his discovery of a rare type of ore. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that. Rochard’s plot really just plays second fiddle to where the game truly shines, which is its excellent puzzle design.

It usually revolves around John’s two weapons: the G-Lifter, a gravity gun that can be used to grab onto objects and either move them around or just shoot them at enemies, and the Rock Blaster, a rather potent laser gun not originally meant for self-defense. Both are often used in tandem to reach platforms, turn mining lasers on and off, recoil in midair as you float through low gravity, etc. The game has a nicely done difficulty curve, with a steady increase in demand for what you’re required to do as you go deeper into the game. You steadily gain new tools to mess around with, like a low gravity device that lets you pick up heavier objects and soar through the air, and a mine launcher used to blow stuff up.

If there’s one thing Rochard could have used less though, it’s actual combat. As part of the plot, a group of bandits invade the mine John works at, but just by the number of them you’d think it’s more of an army than a group. Little bouts of combat here and there would have worked out fine, but the game often places enemy combat sections one after the other and well… it gets repetitive after you’ve taken down your 100th enemy by either hitting them with a block from the G-Lifter or shooting them with the laser, not counting the sections you’ll inevitably repeat due to how easy it is for John to die in combat. A little less combat could have gone a long way to make that aspect a little less dull and the fewer enemies much more exciting.

Despite everything, Rochard does more than the puzzle solving right. There’s plenty of replay value to the game, as hidden trophy collectibles hidden throughout the game require a bit of extra thought and skill to reach, often requiring the use of tricks only taught to you later in the game. There’s even a trophy for doing a speed run in less than 3 hours, which will really push your gravity gun abilities to the test.

If you love puzzle solving and platforming, you’d be hard pressed to find a better use of $10. It’s one of the more original games to come out in a while, and it does a good job of separating itself from other lackluster platformers on PSN. With its well-designed puzzles and likable characters, you’re bound to find something you like with Rochard.

Pros: Great puzzle design, tons of replayability
Cons: Combat’s often dull, can get a bit repetitive

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.